This guide will show you how to make a guest book picture frame.
The idea is to have guests sign the little hearts (or similar item) and drop them into the open top of the frame. When the event is over you seal the top and display the picture frame accordingly.
Step 1: Get Materials (get Inserts First)
Make sure you get your inserts (in our case the hearts) first. This is explained in the next step. You need have these to determine the dimensions and the quantities of your other materials.
- Inserts (in this example hearts). Preferably less than 1/8 inch thick, but you can modify this guide to fit your needs.
- 2 pieces of glass (1/8 inch thickness works well)
- 2 (at least) rolls of double sided foam mounting tape or clear double sided mounting tape. Usually about 1mm thick.
- Framing material
- Silicone caulking (and caulking gun)
- Corner brackets (and small screws)
The foam mounting tape can be found at most hardware stores. The one that is used here to bond the two pieces of glass is a clear mounting tape that is about 1mm thick (gorilla brand). To bond the wood to the glass we used a regular foam mounting tape (by duck).
The corner brackets are as shown in the picture. They need to be small and the screws can't be too large to split the wood.
The framing material we use is a trim found at most building supply stores and it is used at the top of wainscoting or wall paneling. You can see the profile in the picture.
Step 2: Choose Your Inserts (hearts or Whatever)
Before you do anything you need to have your inserts. In this example we are using small wooden hearts. The reason you need to do this first is because you need to figure out how much area the hearts will take up. The area that the hearts will take up (in square inches, square feet, or whatever) will determine your glass size and how much supplies you will need.
Take the approximate amount of hearts that will be used, and place them in such a way that you can measure the amount of area they take up once in the frame. Once you know this area add on about 5 to 10 percent. The hearts can fall different ways and take up more or less area depending on the arrangement. You don't want your frame too small. The hearts will rarely fill the frame anyway so it doesn't matter if empty room is left at the top.
If you want it to appear full then you can get more precise if you want.
Step 3: Ordering Glass
Once you know the area that the hearts will take up, figure out the size glass you need.
You will need the area of the hearts plus 1/2 inch around the perimeter for the spacer. Basically the size that will make the area plus one inch in each direction.
For example, if your hearts took up 1 square foot (or 144 square inches) and you wanted a square frame, you would order two pieces of 13 x 13 piece of glass. This will give you the 12 x 12 area for the hearts and the additional perimeter space.
You will need two pieces of glass of this size.
Step 4: Bonding Both Pieces of Glass
First you will need to tape three sides of one piece of glass (this is where we used the Gorilla clear double sided mounting tape). It is taped on three sides to leave one side open to drop in the hearts.
The tape should be 1/2" wide. If it is wider (like our Gorilla tape. It was 1" wide) just place it so that 1/2" is on the glass and the surplus width hangs over the edge. Then trim the tape. Where our tape was 1" wide we could use the surplus piece again.
These tapes are about 1mm thick. The idea is to use the tape both as a way to bond the two pieces of glass together and to act as spacers. I had to use 3 layers of tape to get the correct spacing (each layer applied the same as the first).
Before I started I took a couple popsicle sticks, stuck several layers of the tape on each end of a popsicle stick and then stuck the other popsicle stick on top. This provided me with the same space as would be between the two pieces of glass. I then made sure that the space was big enough for one heart to fit through but was small enough that two could not fit at the same time (so they wouldn't overlap). Different thicknesses of hearts will call for different amounts of tape layers. The tape thickness may also vary.
Once the three sides are taped with the appropriate amount of layers, be sure to clean the inside of both glass pieces. They will not be accessible after you bond them. Use glass cleaner and a special microfiber cloth. You may also have your own methods for cleaning glass and not leaving dust behind, but try to stay away from paper towel.
place the other piece of glass on top of the tape and make sure it is aligned with the bottom piece.
Step 5: Adding the Frame
Cut out the four sides of the wooden frame.
The frame can be cut many ways, but we just used four pieces cut at 45 degree angles for the corners.
You will want to size the frame so that the wood overlaps the glass about 3/4 inches on all sides.
Now place the foam mounting tape on 3 of the frame pieces (here we used a foam mounting tape from Duck. It was more flexible and contoured to the wood better). Place it on the back side of the frame pieces (see picture).
This is the tricky part. You now have to stick these frame pieces so the corners all line up. This can be tricky. How you do this will depend on your own preference or way of doing things. I attached all four sides together and then laid the glass down into the wooden frame.
Be sure that you stick the tree pieces of frame on the sides that are closed off. We need to leave the fourth side open as before.
Once this is done take the four brackets and use them to reinforce the corners (see pictures). Be careful not to use screws that are too long or too big. You don't want to split the wood or have screw tips poking out the other side.
The brackets will also allow you to add the fourth (not bonded) frame side if you need to. When using the picture frame at the venue, you can remove the fourth frame piece and the adjacent brackets from the open side.
Step 6: Sealing the Sides, and Then the Venue
Use the caulking to fill the space between the glass sides and the frame (see picture). If your frame material does not allow for a space you should modify the frame overlap to allow for some room.
Be sure not to put caulking on the fourth side (open side). Do not obstruct this side at all.
The venue (using the Guest Book Frame):
Leave the fourth frame side (and the two adjacent brackets) off and place the frame at your venue upright. You can use an easel or something.
Once everyone is done signing and placing their hearts in the frame you are ready for the next part.
Step 7: Sealing Everything
Now place a piece of double sided foam tape on the fourth frame piece (like you did before when you bonded the frame pieces to the glass). Stick the fourth piece in place and then fasten the two adjacent brackets.
Seal this side with caulking as you did the other 3 sides. Be careful not to use too much caulking as the caulking will run into the seam. Also be sure not to move the frame so the hearts touch the caulking before it dries.
Now you are done! Enjoy!
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